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COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS

Instructor: Muhammad Naeem


Chapter # 04

CHAPTER # 04

Business
Communication and the
Ethical Context

OVERVIEW

Background to Ethical Context


Ethical Situations

Ethics as a Communication Issue

Ethics in Corporations-An Historical view

Influences on Personal Ethics

People, Culture, Philosophy, Law, Religion

Communications and Ethical issues


Legal Issues
Key areas

Ethics and Organizational Responsibility

BACKGROUND
Facts are important to make ethical decisions
In different situations you decide the right and
the wrong.
Ethics is about making right and wrong decisions
Decision making is difficult when facts are
missing.
Ethical principles centered around fairness,
services, quality, honesty, integrity, dignity help
in making decisions

ETHICAL SITUATIONS

During an on campus interview a recruiter asks


you why he should hire you over your friend? You
have negative information about him, would you
share it?
You witness another student cheating during an
important exam. Do you confront him? Do you
tell other students or examiner?
A firm invites you for a second interview at its
distant office. They will pay you the travelling
fair. You are generally not interested but decide
to go because you want to meet a friend staying
there. Do you accept to go?

A hotel food and beverage manager purchased 20


cases of soft drinks. Without managers knowledge
the delivering person delivered 1 case at managers
place. When manager came to know he decided to
keep it as it was other than hotel supply.
A restaurant manager contracts a spying company
to render its service to spy his waiters if they
deliver order correctly and do they take right orders
without discriminating.

ETHICAL RESPONSES
Friend should take precedence over personal
gains.
Cheating is wrong and should not go
unchallenged.
If a job does not interest you, do not pretend that
it does and accept the plane ticket and hotel
room.
Manager believed it was wrong to accept the wine
However spying on employees is an acceptable
practice.

ETHICS AS COMMUNICATION ISSUE

We are not human beings having spiritual


experience; we are spiritual beings having human
experience.
Corporate Leaders/Managers set corporations
ethical tone.

We are defined in the eye of others as we behave.

Car fraud example; Chrysler Corporation 1987

Ethical leaders speak out when something is wrong,


influence others by acting according to their
personal ethical values.

ETHICS IN CORPORATIONS-AN
HISTORICAL VIEW
Robber Barons (19th Century Wealthy American
Businessmen
- Drive out competition to build monopolies
- Often exploit immigrant laborers, children and
minority workers as cheap labor.
- 1960s; Lewis Harris (1966) poll, 42 % business will do
anything for a buck, honest or not.
- 1970s; Protest occurred on college campuses when
Defense industry tried to recruit, perceived business
profiting from the Vietnam War.
- 1980s; polls showed 55% executive dishonest. NYT &
CBS found 56% businesses fair & poor in terms of
contributing to people well-being.

Organizational behavior is individual behavior


collectivized
Stephen R. Covey. The Seven Habits of Highly
Effective People

INFLUENCE ON PERSONAL ETHICS

We all make Ethical Decisions

Have you returned everything you found?


Have you kept beneficial information from
someone?
Where you remain quiet on omitted facts?

INFLUENCE ON PERSONAL ETHICS


People
Culture
Philosophy
Law
Religion

PEOPLE
Family
Teachers
Close friends
Relatives
Peers
Shareholders ethical study revealed
42% dont expect high level of ethics
58% willing to sacrifice corporate for ethics.
70% would like to see disclosure about ethics in
the annual report.
Are we really as ethical as we think we are?

CULTURE
City/ town
Country to Country
National/ international heroes
Norms/ Myths

China return a penny; its government property


America good luck

PHILOSOPHY

Descriptive Ethics facts about moral judgments or belief of


people

Normative Ethics discovering, formulating and defining


fundamental moral principles

Theologism pattern action according to Gods will

Deontology study of moral obligations, always tell the


truth

Teleology Stud of evidence of design in nature. Morally

evaluate actions by examining consequences to


maximize good consequences

Utilitarianism type of teleology (Max good for max


people). Act is morally good if it
maximizes utility.

LAW

Laws, some argue, represent the minimum


standard of behavior.
Acting ethically means following the law.

Not always right; unethical or unjust


E.g. taxes for war, segregation laws (Martin
Luther King)

RELIGION

Always a major foundation for ethical behavior


Many of the mainstream religions provide the
ethics about ones duties towards God, other
human beings and all other living things on
earth.

COMMUNICATION & ETHICAL ISSUES

Organizational Challenges include developing a


productive company culture with employees
having diverse background, values and beliefs
Legal

Issues
Key Areas for Ethical Communications
Ethics and Organizational responsibility

LEGAL ISSUES

Defamation statements that damage persons


name and reputation, involve false statements
Libel

written defamation
Slander oral defamation
Legal as well as ethical issue

Privacy

Proliferation

of computerized data
Violation of privacy, data collected by organization
passed to third party invasion of privacy

Discrimination & Harassment

Discrimination Deliberate actions to exclude/single


out certain groups of people.
Unethical because it segregates individuals on the
bases of race, sex, ethnic groups, or national origin.
Discriminatory hiring is both illegal and unethical.
Harassment irritating and tormenting (torturing)
another person on a repeated basis.
Poor way of communicating feelings, violate principles
of fairness, dignity and respect.

Plagiarism

Taking idea and material of another person and using


it as ones own.
Students engaged in plagiarism may face integrity
penalties, possible expulsion.
Plagiarism may cause monetary and other damages.

Copy Righting (CR) legal protection of ones


creative efforts

Violating Copy Rights is both illegal and unethical.


In Russia Software companies say 90% of the
programs used are pirated; similar situation prevails
in Asia also.

KEY AREAS FOR


ETHICAL
COMMUNICATIONS

Ethical treatment takes time, thought and


preparation
Written and Spoken messages
Cross Cultural Messages
Advertising Messages

WRITTEN AND SPOKEN MESSAGES

Message purpose (are there any hidden agendas, will it


be in favor of receiver)

Research methods (are the resources recent, reliable


and unbiased)

Selection of materials (include information that will


communicate ideas fairly and accurately)

Development of ideas (use of reasoning & logic, avoid


propaganda techniques)

Use of language (appropriate concrete and specific,


must show respect)
Ethical context (consider listeners values, feelings and

attitude, avoid taking advantage of role, status and


background.)

Self analysis (how would I feel)

CROSS CULTURAL MESSAGES


Globalization, workforce diversity.
Dont take advantage of misunderstandings of
different cultures
Ethical Guidelines
Cultural Context: Have I considered listeners values,

feelings and attitude from cultural point of view?

Misunderstandings: Have I anticipated and tried to


correct possible cross cultural misunderstanding?

Language: Have I used language that can be easily


understood?

Accountability: Have I fulfilled my own standards for


cross cultural ethics?

ADVERTISING MESSAGES
Gaining customers through false advertising is
both unlawful and unethical
Dont confuse consumers
E.g.

White

Christmas
fat free, low-fat, healthy
100 % natural fruit juice

Avoid showing negativity to a specific group


Small gain realized by misrepresentation <
Companys image and repute

ADVERTISING MESSAGES ETHICAL


GUIDELINES

Language: Use Clear and straight forward language,


avoid exaggerated claims.

Graphics/Print: Depict product accurately. Dont use


small print or unobtrusive spot (low profile place) for
significant information.

Omissions: Dont omit any key detail or significant


information that can change customer perception.

Truth: Product must live up to the claimed quality and


standards that can fulfill customers expectations.

Accountability: Would I be comfortable and satisfied


about scrutinizing of my advertisement by the public.

ETHICS AND ORGANIZATIONAL


RESPONSIBILITY
Workplaces are mixes of many ethical values.
Organizations are stronger than individuals
Money purchased both power and influence,
organizations have access to money.
Formal Vs Informal Ways of Communicating
Ethics:

Companies

must determine whether the ethical


values should be suggested from top down or bottom
up.

Formal

ways
Informal ways

FORMAL WAYS
Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream Company ensured
that the highest paid salary is no more than
seven times the lowest paid salary.
For top down approach the ethical standards are
expressed in three ways:

Public messages

Employee manuals and policy statements

Mission statements and ethical codes

Public messages:
Speeches by CEOs, press releases and annual
reports, high ops explanation of companys position.
Employee manuals and policy statements
Employee policy books and manuals containing rules
and regulations of organization.
Considered as a contract b/w employee and employer.

Mission statements and ethical codes:


Mission Statements Fundamental strategic issues
that distinguish business from others.
Ethical codes documents stating ethics and
values, some use affidavit from employee etc.
To avoid confusion keep strategies in Mission
Statement and values in ethical codes.

INFORMAL WAYS
If companys dont have formal strategic policy for
incorporating ethics, then ethics are
communicated informally through day to day
expectations.
Imported through individuals
Organizations own value system, besides creating
value system produce frequently symbols of
ethical value.
Behavior of managers

ANY QUESTIONS ?